If you’re not reading Krugman, you should be.And as long as you’re there, read William Broyles’ moving–and angry–OP-Ed piece.
The longest love affair of my life began with a shotgun marriage. It was the height of the Vietnam War and my student deferment had run out. Desperate not to endanger myself or to interrupt my personal plans, I wanted to avoid military service altogether. I didn’t have the resourcefulness of Bill Clinton, so I couldn’t figure out how to dodge the draft. I tried to escape into the National Guard, where I would be guaranteed not to be sent to war, but I lacked the connections of George W. Bush, so I couldn’t slip ahead of the long waiting list. My attitude was the same as Dick Cheney’s: I was special, I had “other priorities.” Let other people do it.
This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it’s just that the Democrats’ hypocrisy is less acute. Our president’s own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having successfully politicized previously trustworthy and non-partisan govt agencies like the GAO and the CBO, Karl Rove’s White House crew had a right to feel proud of themselves. Those agencies had remained uncorrupted since FDR, carrying out objective investigations and producing unbiased reports; their numbers and conclusions were always accurate, no matter what the political fall-out, and they were trusted by both sides. Those days are, of course, over now, as we have seen both of them twist the data to fit pre-ordained political goals. But there is, it would seem, one independent govt agency left that they forgot to corrupt.
WASHINGTON, May 3 — The Congressional Research Service says the Bush administration apparently violated federal law by ordering the chief Medicare actuary to withhold information from Congress indicating that the new Medicare law could cost far more than White House officials had said.
Not that this is any great revelation. Most of us figured when it came out that ordering Richard Foster to shut up about the real cost so Rove’s Lackeys could push Junior’s prescription-drug benefit for drug companies through a reluctant Congress was likely illegal. We just didn’t expect to hear it officially. We didn’t realize that the CRS had escaped the Rove/DeLay Orwell-Machine’s relentless obsession with forcing govt agencies to turn facts into illusions and illusions into certainties. Unfortunately for the Bush/Rove Admin, the CRS is still honest.
In a report on Monday, the research service said that Congress’s “right to receive truthful information from federal agencies to assist in its legislative functions is clear and unassailable.” Since 1912, it said, federal laws have protected the rights of federal employees to communicate with Congress, and recent laws have “reaffirmed and strengthened” those protections.
Federal employees have a “right” to go straight to Congress and insist they listen to the straight dope? Ooh, this is bad. No telling where it might lead. Next thing you know, EPA scientists will be parading up to the hill to testify that aresenic is poisonous (the BA raised the acceptable levels of arsenic in water), National Marine Fisheries Service scientists will be swearing under oath that hatchery salmon aren’t the same as wild salmon, and climatologists from the National Meteorological Service will be forcing TommyD and Doc Frist and Sexy Chambliss to actually look at data that says global warming is happening RIGHT NOW, and they won’t like that.
You see, the problem is that the Pubs are so wrong scientifically, so wrong about the numbers, so wrong in their assumptions and preconceived, “revealed wisdom”, that this opens the door to an avalanche of federal employees who actually know what the real facts are to invade the sanctity of BushCo’s carefully-contrived FantasyLand Fun Park. If enough of these motivated, whistle-blowing fact-checkers march on the Hill, the FLFP will come crashing down around Radcon heads like the cartoon it is, and Junior’s faith-based govt will grind to a screeching halt.
Look for lines of tanks blocking Constitution Ave before the Rove Boys let a thing like that happen.
Oh, by the way, Tom Scully, Foster’s boss and the jerkweed who told him to keep his trap shut or he’d be out on his ear, is entirely unrepentant. Even though–
The research service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, said Mr. Scully’s order “would appear to violate a specific and express prohibition of federal law.” The actuary, it said, has a duty to “make professional and reliable cost estimates, unfettered by any particular partisan agenda.”
–his stance hasn’t changed one whit:
Mr. Scully has confirmed telling Mr. Foster that “I, as his supervisor, would decide when he would communicate with Congress.”
He hasn’t admitted threatening to fire him, however, although as arrogant as these guys are, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was next, accompanied by the usual Radcon fol-de-rol about loyalty to the president’s agenda and how the real numbers were (somehow) a matter of “national security”.
The depressing part of all this is that we must, of course, at this point kiss the CRS’ non-partisanshhip a quick good-bye. Now that Karl knows they exist, their politicization in the coming weeks–if not days–is a foregone conclusion.
So “Good-bye, CRS, we hardly knew ye, but you did damn good work there for a minute.”